In a first, ISRO to provide rocket system for private launch vehicle


For the first time, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has provided a rocket system to support a domestically produced private launch vehicle.

An Indian aerospace private firm, AgniKul Cosmos Private Limited, is situated in Chennai’s National Center for Combustion R&D of IIT Madras. The startup wants to create and deploy its own small-lift rockets, such as the Agnibaan, which can deliver a 100 kg payload into a 700 km orbit.

The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), a single-window autonomous government agency to promote, permit, and oversee private sector space-based activities, helped AgniKul Cosmos receive its first flight termination system (FTS) from ISRO on November 7.

The ISRO supplied a rocket system to aid a domestically-made private launch vehicle for the first time.

“The official handing over event happened marking the culmination of multiple rounds of interactions about interfacing, handling and using these systems on AgniKul’s launch vehicle ‘Agnibaan’. This also marks the first time that a system that has been used for ISRO’s vehicles is being supplied for supporting a private launch vehicle built in India. The package will be used for their fully controlled sub-orbital launcher, scheduled to launch from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.”

–The National Space Agency said in a statement on Friday, November 11

Agnibaan is a two-stage launch vehicle that can be highly customized. On November 4, Agnikul Cosmos’ rocket engine underwent a hot test at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), the ISRO center in charge of developing launch vehicles.

The Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), Thiruvananthapuram-based Vertical Test Facility of the VSSC successfully completed the 15-second hot test of the Agnilet Engine. The test was conducted as part of an MoU between ISRO and Agnikul Cosmos that gave Indian space start-ups a chance to utilize ISRO facilities through IN-SPACe.

Liquid oxygen and aviation turbine fuel are the propellants used in Agnilet, a 1.4 kN semi-cryogenic engine that is cooled through regenerative action. It was said that this engine was created using cutting-edge 3D printing technology.

According to AgniKul co-founder and CEO Srinath Ravichandran, AgniKul intends to launch their rocket Agnibaan on a full-scale commercial mission in March or April 2023. 

Agnikul Cosmos, a space technology startup, signs a contract with the Department of Space to gain access to ISRO facilities.

The startup’s single-piece 3D-printed engine, Agnilet, recently had a successful test at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) of ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram. In December 2022, the firm plans to test the two-stage booster Agnibaan. According to the test launch results, the company intends to execute a commercial launch in March or April 2023 using customer payloads. 

The Department of Space, ISRO, and Agnikul Cosmos were the three major parties participating in the test. Agnikul Cosmos was given everything required by ISRO to conduct tests at their facility thanks to In-SPACE, who made sure of it. Additionally, it made sure that the test’s prerequisites for the start were met.

Before this, the startup successfully tested the engine in early 2021 at its lab at IIT Madras. The most recent test, however, has a greater impact on Agnikul Cosmos because it takes place at an ISRO facility.

It is revolutionary! This is because, for the first time, an indigenously made private launch vehicle has received rocket support from ISRO.